TESTIMONY OF ELLEN JONES, CHAIR, DC BICYCLE ADVISORY COUNCIL BEFORE THE DC COUNCIL COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT, PUBLIC WORKS AND

TRANSPORTATION March 2, 2012 Good afternoon, Chairman Cheh, and members of the Committee. My name is Ellen Jones. I represent Ward 3 on the DC Bicycle Advisory Council. As provided in the legislation that established the Bicycle Advisory Council, I chair the Council since I am the appointee of the Chairman of the Department of Transportation’s oversight committee. COUNCIL OVERVIEW The Bicycle Advisory Council was established in 1985 to promote the safe and convenient use of the bicycle as a means of transportation and recreation. Thirteen appointed community representatives and representatives from three executive branch agencies meet six times a year. In between full Council meetings, the three standing committees convene to conduct detailed discussions in three topical areas: safety and education, legislation and facilities. We are fortunate to have dedicated and experienced Council members serving as committee chairpersons at the current time: Jeanie Osburn (Ward 5) Facilities Chair, Jameel Asalaam (Ward 4) Safety and Education Chair and David Cranor (Ward 6) Legislation Chair. Two At-Large Council members volunteer their time and talent to help the BAC members communicate with each other and with the public. Heidi Goldberg administers the DCBAC Google Group that enables the Council and the Committees to stay in touch in between meetings. Randall Myers has made a huge contribution to the Council’s ability to communicate with the public through the web portal of DCBAC.blogspot.com.

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The DC Office of Planning’s Joshua Ghaffari keeps the Council abreast of the sustainability initiatives taking place in that agency. He is a valuable resource to the BAC on the planning efforts across the city that may offer opportunities for improving bicycling conditions. Lieutenant Nicholas Bruel of the Metropolitan Police Department works closely and enthusiastically with the BAC and the Safety Committee on practical and meaningful improvements in officer training, public education and enforcement. The District Department of Transportation’s Active Transportation staff, lead by Jim Sebastian, are consistently engaged with the BAC to solicit advice on the full range of bicycling issues that they are working on. They are accessible and responsive to requests from the BAC putting in many hours to participate in meetings and field observations with the BAC and other concerned citizens after their workday ends. STATE OF BICYCLING DC has made improvements in bicycle safety over the past few years. In 2011 the city received the League of American Bicyclists Silver Level of Bicycle Friendliness that includes a safety assessment. This was an upgrade from the Bronze Level that the city had held for several years prior. Bicycle safety depends on human behavior and the built environment. The laws pertaining to the operation of bicycles and motor vehicles also play a role in creating a safe environment for cycling. Many people choose not to bicycle because of their concern for safety. In the last year the city has seen a noticeable increase in the number of trips being made by bicycle. The number of reported bicycle crashes in 2011 was 594, and 36% increase over 2010 reported crashes. Our goal should be a decline in number of reported crashes as the number of trips increase over time.

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FY 2011 HIGHLIGHTS The BAC conducted bicycle tours and held regular meetings that are open to the public to determine the needs for bicycle safety in our city. The BAC’s findings fall into the following four categories: 1. Traffic Enforcement. MPD is able to conduct semi-annual enforcement actions aimed at educating bicyclists/pedestrians/motorists on the rules of road. More frequent enforcement actions and increased use of traffic cameras are needed. 2. Facilities. Bicycle access to and from the Anacostia River Bridges and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge is unsafe and inconvenient. Neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River lack good bicycling connections on major thoroughfares. Downtown cycle tracks have limited usefulness until they are connected into a larger network of similar facilities. Multi-use trails that are city-owned are incomplete or inadequately maintained to realize their potential as bicycling arteries. 3. Government Operations. Passing bicycle-friendly laws seems to be easier than implementing them. Neither the Bicycle Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 nor the Bicycle Commuter and Parking Expansion Act of 2007 have been implemented. The first would require government-owned heavy vehicles to be retrofitted with safety features to reduce the risk of bicycle fatalities in a crash. The Parking Act would have DC government buildings lead by example by providing ample secure bicycle parking facilities for workers and visitors. Neither law requires DC government to make these improvements in one budget year. An incremental approach to implementing these measures as a way of DC government doing business would achieve the benefits intended by the legislation over a reasonable period of time. 4. Planning. DDOT announced its intentions to conduct a multi-modal long range plan beginning in 2012. The BAC recommends incorporating an update of the 2005 Bicycle Master Plan as an integral part of this larger effort.

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FY2012 PRIORITIES The BAC is currently engaged in four initiatives to meet our mandate to promote safe and convenient bicycling in the city: 1. DC Government Accountability for Bicycle Facility Maintenance. In the past decade, the city has invested in new bicycle trails, lanes, paths, sharrows, and tracks. These improvements will remain an asset to the District of Columbia only as long as they are maintained. Currently, no agency been tasked with maintaining these facilities. The District should authorize funding and denote those agencies responsible for maintaining the District’s bicycle infrastructure, which includes removal of broken glass, detritus, overgrowth, and snow and ice. BAC has recommended to the Mayor that the DDOT Urban Forestry Administration (to maintain the District’s trail system) and the Department of Public Works (to maintain streets with bicycle infrastructure) work closely with the District’s bicycle program to perform these tasks. 2. Implementation of the Bicycle Commuter and Parking Expansion Act of 2007. The BAC has sent the Mayor four recommendations to accomplish this task: a. Produce a comprehensive plan for improving bicycle parking in the city; b. Comply with the provisions of the Bicycle Commuter and Parking Expansion Act of 2007 by installing adequate bicycle parking at DC-owned or leased facilities; c. Issue building permits/certificates of occupancy only after the verification of adequate, safe, accessible bicycle parking facilities by city building inspectors, which may require additional training; and d. Streamline the contracting and procurement process for bicycle parking which currently appear to inhibit the timely installation of bicycle parking due to the delays associated with the approval of contracts and grants to non-District government entities.

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3. Police Complaints Review Board Report Follow-Up. Working closely with the MPD representative, the BAC is taking the following actions in response to the recommendations in this September 2011 report: a. Improved access to BAC information and meeting dates; b. Review and comments on MPD bicycle training materials; and c. Review and make recommendations on special enforcement actions aimed at bicycle, motorists and pedestrians. 4. Bicyclists’ Right to the Road. Questions have been raised in the cycling community about current DC code defining where bicyclists are supposed to ride in the road. A review of best practices will be undertaken and recommendations will be forthcoming to the Council. 5. Sustainable DC. BAC members have been active participants in this city-wide initiative, providing input to the transportation working group. The Committee will hear more about our involvement from my BAC colleague, Randall Myers. In addition to these priority issues, we will be looking for opportunities to collaborate with the Pedestrian Advisory Council on matters of mutual concern.

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